The Interview

Another excerpt from the novel I’m working on for my Patreon fans-only website.

***

The Interview (Sometime in 2090)

“I am sorry for the inconvenience, Mr. Johnstone, but XXXX requires a physical interview for authorization.”

Joe’s neck and shoulder ached. He could feel his back stiffen as he sat in the flexor chair, every breath was a chore. He spoke.

“I understand, machine. You need me in this room for a good look over with the Mark One eyeball.”

The expensive intelligence cocked her head. She laughed.

“We haven’t heard that phrase in a while, Mr. Johnstone.”

“It’s been a while since I used it.”

The intelligence smiled. Joe noted that she was very well made, he could barely see through her and there was no trace of a flicker. Nice work, he thought. 

She spoke. “Please do call me Angelique. I prefer that, as well as the pronoun “she.”” 

Joe closed his eyes for a second. He opened them. “Anything you like, Angelique.”

“I see here that you were born on the 5th of July, 1982. Is this correct?”

Joe rubbed his nose. If she were a real woman, he would have picked up on some sort of scent. Something. As it was, the room smelled of rubbing alcohol with a slight tang of ozone. He answered and felt slightly ridiculous to be speaking to what was really a projection and a wall.

“You know it is.”

“We do have to observe the formalities, Mr. Johnstone. Or do you prefer Joseph or Joe?”

“I prefer Joe.”

“May I call you that?”

“Sure. Why not.”

“Just so that I can confirm a few data points, may I ask you a series of questions?”

“That’s why I’m here, right?”

“I do need your permission, Joe.”

“Shoot.”

The machine blinked. Then she smiled. 

“Oh, you mean “go ahead.””

“Yeah.”

“Alright. Shall we begin?”

“Yes.” Joe’s back hurt. He shifted. Angelique noticed. 

“Shall I ask your granddaughter to bring in your analgesics? We’ll be here for a while.”

“It should be alright.” He didn’t fully trust the drugs, even though he had been medicated for many decades. The machine nodded.

“My first question. When were you married?”

“After I made E-5. 2007.”

“I have your wife’s name and statistics. I am sorry for your loss.”

Joe closed his eyes. No, you’re not, he thought. But why be rude? “Thank you.”

“What color were her eyes?”

Joe’s eyes snapped open. “What?”

“What color were her eyes?”

“Blue. How is this relevant?”

“Everything is relevant.”

“I guess?”

Angelique nodded. “Just so you know, you are covered by our non-disclosure agreement. It went into effect the moment you crossed the threshold into this room. I have the same legal rights and privileges as your counselor at Veteran’s Affairs.”

Joe furrowed his face. “How much do you know about me?”

“Very little. Just official statistics and data. But if we agree to go through with this procedure, I will know everything.”

“Everything.”

“Yes, quite.”

Angelique morphed into Doctor French, his counselor at the VA. She had retired decades ago. He cried out.

“Did I startle you?” Doctor French’s face twisted in just that wry way…

“Please change back, Angelique.”

The machine complied. She spoke.

“When did you first watch a launch of a XXXX ship?”

“I dunno.”

“Our predecessor agency was known as SpaceX.”

“Oh yeah, that’s right. Sometime in the tens.”

“What did you feel as you watched the ship ascend?”

Joe remembered seeing the red car in space. He answered.

“It was, I dunno, inspiring.”

“Had you written your first book by then?”

“Yeah. 2012. When I retired from the Army.”

“Why did you shoot that man in the back?”

Joe shot forward. His body screamed at him. He answered, his voice flat.

Fuck you.

***

All of this, readers, will be available to you when I launch November timeframe. I’ll probably do like John Birmingham’s site with two tiers, two bucks and four bucks. Two for the basic serial, and four for the extra cool-guy stuff. Analysis, etc.

Who knows, maybe I launch a five bucks tier where your name gets put in the series. But I don’t know yet. It’s all still up in the air, except for the writing.

Right now I’m at Chapter 25 of the first novel, so I definitely hope to have the rough draft of the trilogy done by launch date- and you, my readers, can help me shape the final. Can interact, can read along.

It’s going to be fun, and I’m really looking forward to it!

J

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